As our election nears and Covid-19 seems unwilling to just go away it is increasingly difficult to find a sense of calm. Our nation is generally riled up and there is an uneasiness even between friends and family members who disagree on how to bring a semblance of normalcy back into our lives. As we navigate through the emotional waters each day we search for moments of serenity, for surely if we do not calm down we will find ourselves in the middle of an eruption that makes the first presidential debate appear to be a model of congeniality. Feelings are not just being worn on our sleeves but consume our entire beings as we worry about the future of of families and our nation. We know that the intensity is not good for our mental health, but what are we to do?
I have found that just ignoring reality is unlikely to cure our woes. There are moments in life that we must face head on. Doing research, reading about the issues and then settling on a possible personal solution gives us a sense of at least being in control of our own thoughts. Such contemplation requires finding a quiet spot where we feel comfortable and able to sort out the confusion of our minds. It is a luxury in which we should indulge especially if we feel as though we are surrounded by chaos. We owe it to ourselves to pray and meditate rather than ceaselessly worry. Sometimes doing so may require us to arise before the rest of the household is awake or wait until they have all gone to sleep in the dark of night.
In my recent travels to Colorado I stayed in a cabin atop Storm Mountain about fifteen miles from Estes Park. Each morning just before the sun arose a nearby rooster awakened me with his crowing. His cries for the start of a new day occurred just as the sun began to rise over the horizon when there was still a kind of chill in the air. I found myself following his command to awaken. I’d don my slippers and put a warm sweater over my pajamas and tiptoe into the kitchen to prepare a cup of tea. I’d sit on the porch of the cabin to watch that little slice of the world slowly coming to life. I found great comfort in the simplicity of the routine.
Not far from where I was staying wildfires were burning. The news of our country and the world continued at its frantic pace. I worried about my aunt who was seriously ill with Covid-19. Reality still lurked behind the curtain of the pastoral scene but somehow that rooster and those early morning sunrises reassured me that I was part of a history far grander than the tiny moment of the present. The cycle of life is as steady as the rotation of the earth as it revolves around the sun. The year 2020 is but one of thousands, perhaps a bit trying but no more important to the cadence of life than the one in which my great grandfather awoke to don his military uniform for war against his once fellow Americans. The present is but a point on a continuum of human attempts to survive. The truth is that somehow we always find a way to overcome the most horrific moments even as our lives are utterly changed by them.
I am back home now and there is no rooster to foretell of the coming day but I somehow hear him in my heart. I still arise to the quiet of the house. I wait for the sun with my cup of tea. I listen to the sounds of my neighbors leaving for work or boarding buses to travel to school. I close my eyes and see the valley of Storm Mountain in my mind. I revel in the peacefulness of the image that will not forsake me. I say my morning prayers and check to see what has happened during the night. I plow on and even though doing so feels so much more difficult than it did a year ago I understand that there is a constancy in our human determination to make things right even as we struggle with so many difficulties that were once unimaginable.
I suppose that we each have different ways of dealing with challenges but I worry about those who seem unable to confront their anxieties. They appear to lie to themselves about reality and pretend that just indulging themselves will chase away their fears. They do not want to sacrifice or change or gaze upon upsetting ideas. They attempt to make the rest of the world fit neatly into their own preferences. They avoid anything that upsets them, isolating themselves into a world of their own making that has no room for differences that they are unwilling to accept.
We are all in this crazy moment together. We are not just one family, one city, one state, one country but most importantly one world. The rooster on Storm Mountain will crow just as magnificently whether he is there or in Africa or the Middle East or Europe or South America. He will adapt to his environment just as we too must do when things change. Our best moments have always come when we agreed to work together.
I have faith the we will ultimately use our talents to lift ourselves from all of the difficulties that plague us just as that rooster uses his. My early morning meditations and readings have assured me that good ultimately triumphs but it only happens when each of us is willing to do some heavy lifting and make necessary sacrifices for the common good.